Cast bullets in .17 caliber centerfire rifles

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mashburn posted this 11 March 2019

Is there anyone out there who has fired cast bullets in .17 caliber centerfire rifles? I'm not talking about the pip squeak rimfire cartridges, I'm talking about real rifles. I have a .17 Mashburn, which no one except me and possibly a few other old-timers have ever heard of. I built it with the old man Mashburn's shop made reamer. I met a fellow with a .22 caliber black powder rifle a few years back. He was a member of the Arkansas Black Powder Association.. by their rules he had to shoot a patched round ball in competition but his favorite loads were with .22 caliber pellets. It was very accurate. I planned on building one but I have too many projects.

After reading the information on bunny rifles I got very interested and have one under construction. And of course being a .17 caliber fan I got to thinking about the possibility of shooting lead pellets in my .17 and have a unusual variant of a bunny rifle. The .17 Mashburn that I have has about the same powder capacity as a .17 MK IV. The shoulder is 40 degrees and the neck is about .173 thousandths in length, A much hotter cartridge than the .17 Ackley Bee. One tenth of a grain powder increase results in about 100 fps. I ran through about 2.5 lbs. of powder working up the loads that I shoot. If there is anyone who has experimented with something like this or has a interest, I would like to hear any and all comments.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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M3 Mitch posted this 12 March 2019

I'll have to admit that I have never seen a .17 caliber mold.  I guess it could be done, but I have never seen it. -Mitch

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GP Idaho posted this 12 March 2019

I bet they'd be fun to put gas checks on. Maybe some swaged 17cal pellets. Gp

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Brodie posted this 12 March 2019

NOE offers three .172" diameter moulds.  The 17cal. molds are offered in both gas check and plain base.  If you left the gas check upright (cup up) on the bench and pressed the bullet base into it I don't think they would be any harder than any others.  Such molds would certainly save on powder and lead though.

B.E.Brickey

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delmarskid posted this 12 March 2019

I have no experience with the 17 but I have driven .22 pellets through my Bee with primed cases. Works pretty good. A friend does it with his 223 and a grain of bullseye.

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mashburn posted this 12 March 2019

Hello delmarskid,

I think your on track. I'm not worried about high velocity, I just want a fun rifle to shoot pests around the place and have fun plinking. Years ago I took a .17 cal pellet rifle barrel, turned it to the size and shape of .357 magnum cases-except longer where it would almost reach the end of the cylinder, I rigged the back end to take a Lg. rifle primer and put a small throat in front of the primer to seat the pellet in. Amazingly accurate at distances I didn't expect. I was always going to make a barrel insert but never did. I never figured out a barrel insert that I wouldn't have to butcher the barrel to make it stay put. I'm sure I would have come up with something If I hadn't got sidetracked with some other project.

When I was fireforming cases for this rifle, even after annealing I was loosing a way too many cases in the fireforming process with bullets I began using a very small amt. of Bullseye and bullet lube plugs in the case mouths. I never lost a case after that. It was amazing what such a small chg. of powder would do. Like your example of your Bee and your friends rifle,

Thanks a lot for your input.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 12 March 2019

Hello in Idaho,

The swaged .17 pellets sounds interesting of course I would want to make the swages myself: instead of looking for one already made. when I was about in the 6th grade or so  I came up with a 20 cal. Sheridan pellet rifle. I lived about 30 miles from town and hardly ever went there, besides we were so poor I couldn't have bought pellets. I learned to make my own crude pellets,  but they were quite accurate. To save my pellets only to shoot small game I would wrap BB's in tissue and shoot them just for plinking. Amazingly they shot pretty accurate at close distances. I made 20 cal pellets by melting fishing sinkers and pouring it into fired 22 cases. About the only tools I had were files. I would first file the rim off and them split the 22 case lengthwise with a file and take the lead slug out. I would then file the diameter down to approximately .20 caliber-Round the point with files and then take the round ended blade in my pocket knife and whittle out the resemblance of a hollow base. They had no belt. I don't know what the weight of them was but they were deadly on rabbits and squirrels. Those old Sheridans didn't have a pressure relief valve, you could pump until you couldn't force another stroke in it. These heavy pellets with an over supply of air would shoot through a 2X4 board.

Now that I'm a old man I  enjoy having a complete machine shop and the money to do the things that I wanted to do when I was just a poor kid. Your mention of swaging set my want to make in gene off. Thanks for your suggestion and thinks for bringing  back happy memories of my childhood. I just wish I had more tools and money in those years. While I've been setting here typing I have been getting ideas of how to build the swage.

Mash-David Cogburn

David a. Cogburn

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dromia posted this 12 March 2019

I use bullets from the NOE molds in my .17 Hornet at around 1800 fps with fine success.

Like all small cast bullets casting consistency/bullet consistency has be good as any defects tend to be magnified.

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John Alexander posted this 12 March 2019

Great thread and fascinating ideas.  David's tale of feeding the Sheridan is outstanding.

My contribution is pale by comparison. But in 1961 managed to murder a fair number of starling from a Washington DC apartment window using 17 caliber pellets out of a 222 propelled by primers only.  I avoided apprehension by using a paper towel tube silencer which seemed to muffle the tiny report a bit.

John

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delmarskid posted this 12 March 2019

The pellet from my Bee would almost Pierce a metal trash can at 30 feet. 3/8" plywood didn't stand a chance. I still have my Sheridan.

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mashburn posted this 12 March 2019

Hello dromia,

Now things are really getting interesting. You are shooting at velocities that would really fill the bill for what I'm looking for, If I may ask what kind of accuracy are you getting with this cartridge? Are your bullets plain base or GC (I don't even know if there is such a thing as a .17 caliber GC)? would it be possible to share some of your load information with me? I have been thinking of either making a paper patch mold or a swage to make bullets to paper patch. Also, would you be willing to sell me some of you bullets to experiment with. I would pay a fair price or if you're interested, I would trade you some jacketed Hornady V-MAX bullets .I really appreciate your info.

Mashburn-David Cogburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 12 March 2019

Hello John

, I enjoyed your response. I hope you don't live in DC at the present. If you tried that shooting sport now all of the swat teams in the Northeast would have been called in to take out such a dangerous gunman. How things have changed. I'm glad in live in extreme Southeastern Oklahoma. We just passed Constitutional carry a few days ago. We welcome all newcomers just as long as they vote like we do,

Thanks for your response,

David Cogburn -Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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M3 Mitch posted this 12 March 2019

Just doing a couple of Google searches, I am not finding any commercially available 17 caliber gas checks.  I guess someone could make them using one of the DIY tools now available, or maybe the guys at NOE have them? 

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JeffinNZ posted this 13 March 2019

Adam (Dromia).  You are taking 'Scottish' to the next level.  LOL.  I should know being a Dunedin boy (Edinburgh of the south).

Cheers from New Zealand

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 13 March 2019

17 gas checks ..... how about making them by reforming small primer cups  ... fired, de-anviled, then uni-formed in a small die ...

***************

i have thrown away a lot of potential 17 gas checks ... heh ...

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i have often thought it would be fun to put together a 17 cast shooter ... but i have only ever had one new take-off barrel in 17, and somebody wanted it on a gun right away ...

just think, you could make a bullet forming swage for a 310 tong tool  ....

.... and it would have to shoot small groups ... how far apart could 17 sized bullets possibly get ?? ...

keep us informed .... 17 cast could give us some answers ... such as how fast can you go WITHOUT gas checks ...  and how would powder coating work ...

ken

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mashburn posted this 13 March 2019

Hello again,

I wish I still had my Sheridan but I don't. There was a little blonde headed girl that moved in a couple of miles away(the story was  that she was quite promiscuous) I needed some transportation. The front axle in my bicycle had broken and both of my tires were beyond repair. I had made boots out of pieces of tin cans to put inside the tires over rotten holes and etc. I then riveted the boots in and put old pieces of inner tube to protect my tubes. The tires had gotten so bad I couldn't even run them that way. I found a kid that had a front axle and bearings and two brand new bicycle tires and tubes and he wanted my Sheridan. Regrettably I traded. Guess what,Blondie wasn't the way I was told and I didn't have my Sheridan anymore.

I remember there was a Silver Streak and some other streak. One was a 22 caliber and the other was a 20 cal. I can't remember which was which. Oh what memories.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 13 March 2019

Jeff,

Yes, I'm Scottish along with a mixture of a lot of other Nationalities. I don't know why the Scotts love their guns so much. Look at all Scotts with names connected to rifles: Hepburn-Mashburn and the list goes on and on.

David Cogburn-Mashburn.

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 13 March 2019

Ken,

Boy, it's good to hear from you again. Before I go any farther, did you ever know a man from Manchester, Iowa named Dick Sanders? A friend of mine Xeroxed a copy of Sanders book called 17 Caliber Shooting. It was not only a load book but it included his notes he made while shooting 17 caliber cartridges that he designed and the guns he fired them in. It was published in 1991.  It broke a spring in my feeble mind and I couldn't think of nothing else until I built one. I had several phone calls with him while I was building my rifle. I found out later that I was the only one that his wife would let him take phone calls from. I think it he was getting older at that time. That was in the late 90's I built a rifle like one that he had just developed without having a sketch or anything. He would describe different things and I guess we understood each others thinking. I kept in touch with him for a few years and after finding out that his wife wouldn't allow him to talk to anyone but me, I didn't want to upset him or her. Maybe she liked to hear my southern accent. I believe that he and Frank DeHass had some kind of friendship.

I can't believe that I had never thought of making jackets from spent primers. I got to see what I can do. After you mentioned this I started thinking of making a nose pour mold in which you put the GC in and then poured in the metal. there used to be a fellow around here that made pistol bullets in this manner. You would have to run them through  a sizer and crimp the GC's  firmly or they wouldn't stay on long. My .17 Mashburn has thousands of rounds fired through it and hasn't lost any of its accuracy. It fires 20 gr. slugs better than 25 gr. but I lost too much effective killing range with just a 5 gr less bullet. Believe it or not I have targets on file of 5 shot groups at 100 yds. in  about a .200 inch group. I have never tried to get all of the velocity that it is capable of , I developed a good accurate load with enough velocity to blow up prairie dogs. I made the mistake once of shooting a turkey with it.  I found that you should either shoot him in the head or shoot him straight in the breast. You never saw such a cloud of feathers in your life, I shot him in the side of his body. When I cleaned him the side where the bullet struck of course was not damaged. The side of the exit was different. I got one-half breast and most of one drumstick from that side The day before I killed a gobbler with my 28 guage shotgun. I almost let it spoil while I drove around to all the turkey hunters that I knew, showing them the pulverized head and ragging them about not needing a 31/2 magnum to kill a turkey..

Since you came up with the idea of making a swage out of a tong tool, you should volunteer to make one and loan it to me. Ha Ha. What part of Iowa do you reside in? Thanks a lot Ken.

David Cogburn

David a. Cogburn

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gnoahhh posted this 13 March 2019

I took a decrepit .177 Made in China air rifle and converted it to percussion. I started by pulling the barrel and reaming a tiny chamber backed by a simple percussion gun nipple. The innards of the rifle went in the trash and I fashioned a simple (crude) central fire swinging hammer, held and tripped by the gun's original trigger. (Hammer looked a lot like a S&W revolver hammer filed out of O-1 steel and hardened, driven by a simple flat spring.) The loading/shooting drill was: unscrew the nipple with a standard nipple wrench, breech seat a .177 air rifle pellet, dump in a measure full off 4f black powder to fill the chamber (I don't recall the exact charge but it was around 1/2 of an empty .22 short case with a handle soldered on), screw the nipple back on, cap it with a #11 cap, and fire. Noise was virtually nonexistent, velocity was fairly snappy (how's that for a technically precise term?!), and accuracy was Minute of Starling at 50 feet. Admittedly slow to reload, but what's time to an old fart sitting on the front porch with nothing better to do? I never experienced blowback, but I was never foolish enough to fire it without shooting glasses on.

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shastaboat posted this 13 March 2019

While I always like a challenge I think trying to shoot a cast 17 cal or swaged 17 cal bullet is kind of foolish.  .17 cal high velocity jacketed bullets certainly have a use for varmint hunting or targets but when you figure in the velocity restrictions of shooting a lead bullet accurately, you might just be wasting your time.  I do cast, load and shoot .22 cal in .223/5.56 for varmints and it is somewhat tedious to install gas checks and size/lube but highly accurate and effective within the threshold of cast bullet velocity.

Because I said so!

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mashburn posted this 13 March 2019

Foolish

Remember this is the Cast Bullet Forum. Without what you call foolish, cast bullet shooting technology would be nothing like it is today. I've fired thousands of Jacketed 17 cal cartridges both on the range and in the prairie dog fields. I grew up as a small game hunter that put food on the family dinner table. When Dad bought me a box of 22 shorts, I was expected to shoot food with every round. One of the first things I did when I got old enough to make a little money was to buy 22 shells and shoot to my hearts content. I'm sure people thought Benjamin Franklin was foolish.

I have three college majors-Industrial technology, Science and physical education .My 17 with jacketed bullets will shoot 5 shot,.200 inch groups at 100 yds. Mission accomplished, time for something else. In one of my responses I described what happened to the Turkey I shot. I have approximately 70 rifles and there are several that fill the bill as small game rifles but I want to shoot this one with cast.  Most of the rifles that I have I built myself. This is how cast bullet shooting has progressed so much. Like Elmer Keith said "Hell I Was There" and Larry Potterfield would say "That's The Way It Is.

 Please Don't call Me Foolish.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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